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   Alice M. Ditson Fund records, 1940-2009

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Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Alice M. Ditson Fund records; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.:MS#1738
Bib ID:11263262 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Alice M. Ditson Fund
Title:Alice M. Ditson Fund records, 1940-2009
Physical description:14 linear ft. (34 document boxes)
Language(s): In English
Access: This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. This collection has no restrictions.  More information »



This collection is arranged in four series.

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Scope and Content

The Alice M. Ditson Fund was established at Columbia University in 1940 and is still active in its primary function of providing financial support to composers, performances, and recordings of contemporary American music. The annual Ditson Conductor's Award was also established in 1945. The collection includes general and financial records, meeting minutes, applicant files, and subject files.

The strength of the collection is the documentation of the Fund's activities through general operating and financial records and meeting minutes. The bulk of the collection dates to the years when the donor, Betsy Mahaffey, served as secretary for the Fund. Financial records in this collection date back to 1981. Financial and operating records exist for the years 2001 to 2007. Meeting minutes cover the years 1999-2009. The collection contains little documentation of the years before 1981 or after 2009.

Researchers looking for earlier administrative records of the Fund should look at additional records held by the Columbia University Archives. In particular, there are administrative records held in files related to Douglas Moore and Jack Beeson in the Office of the President (Central Files) records that would be of interest for 1940-1967. Additional material is filed in the Historical Subject Files.

The collection also documents the activities of the Ditson Conductor's Award for the years 1989 to 2008, including correspondence, clippings, and photos.

Series I: General and Financial Records, 1972-1973 1981-2007

This series includes one document from 1972-1973; financial records only from 1981 through 2000; and financial as well as general operating records and related files from 2001 through 2007.

Series II: Meeting Minutes, 1999-2009

There are minutes, notes, and other documents for approximately biannual meetings from 1999 through 2009. At these meetings, the Fund committee would consider candidates who had applied for Ditson funds during the previous six months. The meeting minutes are accompanied by applicant files for each applicant being considered at that particular meeting. Many applicants applied for—and were sometimes granted—funds in multiple award periods.

Series III: Subject Files, 1940-2007

Subject files include index cards summarizing multi-year applicants; two folders of various writings by board president Jack Beeson; biographies of prospective committee members; documents related to the 2008 Ditson Festival of American Music; copies of historical and founding documents; and a file on a 2003 court case over property involving Martha Graham (The Martha Graham School and Dance Foundation, Inc. and Ronald A. Protas v. Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance, Inc.).

Series IV: Ditson Conductor's Award, 1989-2008

This series includes correspondence, clippings, and notes related to the process of nominating and selecting conductors for the annual Ditson Conductor’s Award. Also included are photos from the 2006 award ceremony.

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Using the Collection


Access Restrictions

 This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Alice M. Ditson Fund records; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Finding aid available online.

Selected Related Material-- at Columbia

Audio materials originally recorded under the auspices of The Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University were digitized in 2006 and are available onsite in the music library. CLIO records for individual recordings can be found with the search string "Ditson Fund Recordings Archive". The original physical recording media are managed by RBML as the "Ditson Music Deposit", and may only be accessed by PRD. For more information about the recordings, see .

Office of the President (Central Files), Columbia University Archives.

Historical Subject Files, Columbia University Archives.

Jack Beeson Papers, Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Papers processed by Emily Clark (GSAS) 2015

Finding aid written by Emily Clask (GSAS) 2015

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion February 25, 2015 Finding aid written in English.
    2015-02-25 File created.
    2015-03-04 XML document instance created by Catherine C. Ricciardi

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Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Alice M. Ditson FundPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Beeson, Jack 1921-2010PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia UniversityPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Composers--United States--20th centuryPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Music--United States--20th centuryPortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note


The Ditson Fund was established at Columbia University in 1940, with a bequest of $400,000 from Alice M. Ditson, the widow of music publisher Oliver Ditson. Mrs. Ditson's will stipulated that income from the bequest be used for non-academic fellowships, public concerts, and publications in support of music. The initial Advisory Committee appointed by Mrs. Ditson directed her intentions toward contemporary music. The Ditson Fund has continued this focus, with emphasis on funding of performances and recordings of music by emerging American composers. In 1945, the Ditson Conductor's Award was established, and is the oldest continuing award honoring conductors for distinguished contributions to American music. The Conductor's Award honors conductors who have a distinguished record of performing and championing contemporary American music. The Ditson Fund has awarded over 2,000 grants since its founding in 1940.

The Fund maintains two separate grant programs: Organizational Support, and Recording Projects. The Organizational Support program supports performing organizations, institutions, summer festivals and conferences whose artistic excellence encourages and improves public knowledge and appreciation of works by younger and relatively unknown living American composers of classical concert music. The Recording Projects program aims to document and provide wider exposure for the music of younger and relatively unknown living American composers.

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